Drug toxicology is a medical field in which researchers test the safety of drugs. They look at the effects of the drug on the human body so that they can fully disclose to doctors and patients all of the possible outcomes of use. Two of AME’s drug toxicology expert witnesses have written exclusive medical malpractice articles that we have provided, for your interest, below. Methadone Toxicity Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Case Methadone is an opioid thought to act by decreasing release of neurotransmitters in the brain resulting in respiratory suppression and, in some cases, death. Several studies have described naive patients who expired shortly after entering methadone maintenance programs which did not adequately assess tolerance prior to initiation of methadone therapy. Naive users require more time to clear methadone from their bodies placing them at increased risk of overdosing. Liver or kidney dysfunction can greatly prolong methadone clearance resulting in increased risk of adverse effects. Doses of 50 mg or less of methadone have proven fatal to non-tolerant adults. The half-life of elimination of methadone is thought to be about 15 hours, but it could be as long as 55 hours in some cases. Autopsies have shown average blood concentrations of 0.28 mg/L with a range of 0.06 to 3.1 mg/L in 59 victims versus 0.11 mg/L in methadone maintenance patients. About the expert who provided this information and how to retain him for your cases: While I have been president and principal toxicologist for the past 26 years, my consultancy has offered independent consulting services providing litigation support for both the plaintiff and defense in matters related to causation. We have participated in cases involving solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene, welding fumes, heavy metals such as hexavalent chromium, lead, arsenic, manganese and nickel, pesticides such as methyl parathion, lindane, chlorpyrifos, and diazinon, prescription and OTC drugs such as Baycol, Vioxx, phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and other Ephedra alkaloids, Pantopaque and Fen-Phen, industrial chemicals such as creosote, PCB’s, dioxins, arsenic, PVC and vinyl chloride monomer, irritant gases such as chlorine, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide, hazardous waste sites, alcohol (DUI), illicit drugs, tobacco smoke and breast implants, among others. We have been involved heavily in health/exposure assessment surveys of large populations including sampling of blood, urine, and hair and have organized efforts and experts to address the complex problems of mass tort litigation. Narcotic Overdose – Medical Malpractice Narcotic injections are frequently used in hospitals to control pain, sometimes augmented with the use of tranquilizing medications. However, tranquilizing drugs in combination with narcotics will increase the risk for respiratory depression. That is, they chemically narcotize the breathing centers in the base of the brain (the medulla) and can stop the patient’s breathing. If this is not recognized immediately, death ensues. Elderly patients and children are more susceptible to the respiratory depression side effects of narcotics and tranquilizers. The frequency of injection should be not closer together than every three hours, and the dosage and cumulative effect of combinations of medications must be taken into consideration by both the ordering physician and the treating nurses, both of whom have independent duties to protect patients.
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